Today is International Woman’s Day. I checked out the IWD web site to see what it was really all about, because I must confess to having some mixed feelings about it. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m a woman. I’ve been a woman my entire life. I have suffered the sexual harassment, the sexual abuse, the rapes, the violence. I’ve suffered the attempts by men to stifle who and what I am. I’ve suffered wage inequality and been on the receiving end of misogynists who claimed to be for equal rights and yet simply did not pay attention to my desires, my wisdom or my words. Yes, I have simply been discounted. Someone mentioned to me the other day that her husband “allowed” her to get her nails done because he liked to have his back scratched with those nice nails. Sigh. No....we have not yet achieved equality. No, we do not have gender parity. I’m old enough now to stand on my own two feet, and most times when I encounter misogyny I just bless them and move on, although I’m able and willing to prevent someone from physically abusing me. I’m even for a day devoted to highlighting the achievements and attributes of women. And I am glad to see that we also have an International Men’s Day. I loved it that on the International Women’s Day web site they called for “Now, more than ever, there's a strong call-to-action to press forward and progress gender parity. A strong call to #PressforProgress. A strong call to motivate and unite friends, colleagues and whole communities to think, act and be gender inclusive.”
I contemplate this a lot. What is mine to do? Eleanor Roosevelt said that “Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people." Stuff bugs me, but I’m not going to discuss people or events here. It’s a waste of time, and just contributes to what is really bothering me: Polarity. Us and them. Separation. Duality. All different names for the same thing. I feel as strongly about this as Ernest Holmes must have been feeling when he said this: “The belief in duality has robbed theology of power and has polluted philosophy with untruths; it has divided science against itself, and has made countless thousands go through life with saddened hearts.” And this: “The belief in duality is the father of most negative thinking.”
The opposite of duality is oneness, and that is what I believe in. I also believe that what we believe in affects our lives and shows up in physical form. If you don’t believe me, check out quantum physics...specifically the “observer effect.” I’ll leave that up to you, I’ve got other things to write about. And if you think science has no place in a conversation about oneness and theology and ideas and god, I respectfully suggest that you consider why you are even reading this. There are no mistakes in life. There must be a question in your mind or you wouldn’t be reading my words. Contemplate that while I move on.
Oneness to me means that not only is there no separation between me and you, but there is no separation between me and god. Powerful stuff there. Because believing in oneness means that I believe that what you do affects me, and what I do affects you. This happens in the micro form, between you and me, and it happens in the macro form, world wide. So when we point fingers and blame and attack and separate ourselves from them because they are all fucked up, it is hurting us as much as them. All this polarity that is going on in the world hurts. It hurts me, and it hurts you. It is duality at its worst.
What does this duality look like on a gritty level? It looks like I’m right and you are wrong. It looks like there is only one way to refer to god, my way. It looks like “well, I’m not perfect, but you did this and that and for that I am standing firm and holding my ground and blaming you for all this trouble.” Duality looks like stubbornness and close mindedness. And it bugs me.
When I get really bugged about this stuff, and I do, a lot, I contemplate: “what is mine to do?” And the honest answer? I don’t know. I sometimes feel like the way I felt when I witnessed a devastating fire burn down much of my town. There was nothing I could do but bake cookies for the firemen and the displaced. So I baked cookies. I guess in a way, I really do know what is mine to do. It is the metaphorical equivalent of baking cookies. I’ve got a certain skill set, and certain credentials, and I can voice this, and spread the word. I can present a different way to be. And so that is why I speak. It is why I write. It is why I teach. It is why I do workshops and retreats. I want people to be happy. I want them to live more peacefully. I believe that when individuals live happier and more peacefully, that has a far reaching effect.
I look at it like this: if it is true that there are only two basic states of being: fear or love (and I believe this to be true), then we are either coming from a place of fear or a place of love in any given situation. When we attack, when we point fingers, when we judge, it is all fear based. What’s up with the fear? Why would someone else’s lifestyle threaten you? How could it? What if, instead of attacking, you realized that this fear you are feeling that is making you attack and condemn and judge others is really a call to investigate why you are so fearful in the first place? This removes the attention from them and places it on yourself. Perhaps an uncomfortable place to be, but people like me can help you with that.
What if instead you contemplated what love would do? Call it what you will, there are many names for love, just as there are many names for god. What if instead you asked why a suggestion that there are different names for god gets your feathers all ruffled? What if instead you contemplated what your life would look like if you replaced all that fear with love? What if instead you contemplated how a belief in separation and duality is harming you, and found a different way to believe? What then? Do you think that might contribute to a better life, for you and for the rest of the world? I do.
So I’m going to bake cookies. What if you baked cookies too? What is your metaphorical equivalent of baking cookies? Do that.
As Rumi said, “Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field. I’ll meet you there.”
Today is Fat Tuesday. Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday and Valentines Day and the beginning of Lent. And Easter falls on April Fool’s Day this year.
If I didn’t know better, I’d say something is trying to tell us something.
As for me, I’m having a bit of fun with it all. Really?!?!?! Ash Wednesday, a day when Christians are supposed to fast and remember their basic nature (sinners) and sacrifice......coupled with Valentine’s Day? This could have far reaching ramifications for your relationship: Declaring undying and unconditional love on Valentine’s Day, or sacrificing everything to remember that we are really nothing but dust and to dust we will return, except that there will be a resurrection that is going to happen on....wait for it.....April Fools Day. ...continue reading "On Gluttony and Sacrifice and Penitence and April Fool’s Day"
The first time I ever went to Death Valley, it was under protest. I had gone to a photographer’s convention in Vegas with a fellow photographer who insisted on stopping at Death Valley on the way home. I was not impressed, but he was driving, so I went along for the ride.
We get there and I immediately became impressed. Why they call this place Death Valley is beyond me. Well, actually, I know whey they call it that. Something about extreme heat in the summer killing everything that stops long enough to experience it. But go in the spring, or the fall, or the winter months, and it’s different. What I was impressed by was the energy there. Call it woo woo if you want, but I feel energy. It’s a powerful thing, that energy. It’s like The Force, and if you allow yourself to feel it, you can learn awesome things. There is a stillness about Death Valley that has much to teach us, if we allow it.
I’ve since gone back to Death Valley many times. I’ve gone alone, and I’ve brought groups in. This year, on March 6-8, I’m bringing another group in. I call it the Creativity Retreat.
A couple of things: I’m different. Some might say I march to a different drum. Actually, what really happens is that I hear a different beat than most. It’s the beat of that woo woo energy I was speaking of. I believe that if you get quiet long enough, you begin to get in touch with that Force, and you open up to new and wonderful things. This is what creativity is all about. And this is what the camping is all about.
I could take a group to a hotel. But then the whole camping/energetic/woo woo experience would change. I like the whole camping/energetic/woo woo experience. You say you don’t camp? Then this is your first lesson. Come. Step outside those limitations and see what happens. This is also a part of creativity.
So come. Join me and some other pioneers. Camp with us. Share meals prepared at campside by whoever wants to participate. Sit and experience the energy that is Death Valley, do a bit of inner exploration, prompted by me, yours truly. Explore the valley a bit too. There will be time for that.
My husband seems to think that money is tight. I did the math. $90 for the retreat itself, maybe $50-$100 for groceries, maybe $100 for travel to get there and back. $300 for a life changing experience. To me, it is a no brainer. But then again, I did say I march to a different beat.
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License plate musings:
So....I live in an area where lots of people come from all over the world to visit. I enjoy hearing the different languages, seeing evidence of different cultures. Here in agricultural Nevada, we’ve got cowboys. And tattooed folk. Sometimes they mix. So I enjoy seeing women wearing saris and guys with turbans. I marvel at the lack of personal space evidenced by Chinese people. These folks have absolutely no concept of personal space. Get near a bunch of them and prepare to be crowded. I remember watching the eclipse last year with a group like this. We were on a bluff, over looking Lake Tahoe. Plenty of room, lots of open space, lots of trails. I had my tripod set up to photograph the eclipse. They crowded around me so close that I had to watch to make sure my tripod didn’t get knocked over. Nice people, we communicated as best we could with the language barrier. They loaned me their special little viewing glasses, I let them look on my camera monitor to see what I was capturing. We shared OOOHs and AHHHs. But they crowded me. Where was I? Oh yeah, license plates. So one of my other hobbies is noticing out of state license plates. I can always tell when it is tourist season by the number of out of state plates I see. Some plates are beautiful. They have rainbows and bright colors and catchy slogans. Then there is Delaware. Now there’s a no-nonsense plate. No bright colors. No mountains. No catchy slogan. Just...the plate number. I did a little research on Delaware license plates. Apparently they’ve always been some variation of light numbers and letters on a dark background. I saw no evidence of rainbows or mountains. What kind of state does that? I went to Delaware.gov to explore a bit, and saw an archived blog post in which was written this: “In exploring this unique part of First State culture – the program will include such topics as the desirable black & white porcelain sets from the 1940s, the black stainless steel tags from the 1950s, and the story behind the controversial font-style changes in the early 1990s.” Yes folks, apparently it is a cultural icon in Delaware to have plain black and white.
Today’s post is not what I normally write about. But I read what I wrote to my husband, who said it was good writing. Of course, he was under the influence at the time, and may also be prejudiced, but I’m going with it...so here you go:
January 30, 2018, approximately 9 am
Confessions of a....well...at this point I don’t know what to call myself. I just thought I’d give fair warning of what I’m about to write. I’m sitting here in the VA hospital in San Francisco, waiting. Am I a wife? Spiritual counselor? Caregiver? Probably a bit of all of them, and more. I was thinking earlier that I didn’t sign up for this. “This” being accompanying my new husband to hospitals. I thought we’d get married and ride off into the sunset, him on his motorcycle and me on my horse. We’d enjoy this last portion of our lives exploring new territory and new levels of each other. We had a beautiful wedding a little over a month ago, and I honestly never thought it would happen, although I Ionged and hoped for it to happen. And in spite of working at weddings in one capacity or another for 30 years, I guess I never really deeply considered what getting married really means. But a dear friend reminded me. I did indeed sign up for this, when I said “I do.” This led to me wondering how many people consider what they are signing up for when they call me and say they want to get married. It’s a commitment. A big fat hairy huge commitment. For someone like me, who has never really known or experienced the more traditional trappings of family, and who has fiercely defended and fed her independence, getting married at 63 and making this commitment is a big deal.
So here I sit, in a hospital, wondering. I’m in and out of tears, and not quite sure why, as this procedure is not major. He’s got cancer, and they are doing what they call a “chemobilization” to zap just the affected area, not his entire body. But it feels like major surgery, complete with fasting, checking in to a hospital, hospital workers wandering around with those little hats and booties on. He’s already thoroughly pissed off a nurse by drinking coffee. They didn’t say fast from everything, they just said don’t eat after midnight. Geez. ...continue reading "Confessions of a….well….something…."
I’m so excited I just had to post again and let you know what is on tap for the Expectations workshop this Thursday!.
$25 and three hours of your time invested and you will learn:
1. How expectations are really subtle attempts to control others.
2. That fear is what causes us to want to control
3. How to replace fear with faith or love, and expectancy
4. How to communicate your expectations clearly.
5. How to use disappointment as a propellant, not a retardant
This workshop is online, via Zoom platform, which is a very easy video conference system. Thursday, January 18 from 6-9 PM., cost is $25. You can register in one of three ways:
1. Use my online store: http://karenlinsley.com/?page_id=1174#!/Its-not-about-THEM-Its-about-ME/p/94899803/category=0
2. Use Pay Pal
3. Call me and register over the phone.
Once I recieve your registration I will email you the link to attend.
Ok, I will admit it, I’m a bit different than other coaches and workshop folks out there. I don’t send a zillion emails all the time. I don’t have landing pages that go into this long sales oriented explanation of why you should sign up for this or that.
What I offer is simple: if you have ANY area in your life that is unsatisfactory to you, my workshops and retreats will help. I work from the inside out. This isn’t about changing your relationships, your job, your diet or the place you live. This is about facilitating fundamental inner shifts in the ways that you think, because what you think and how you think does have an effect on that outside stuff.
So, if you want change in your life, for the better, consider my latest offerings:
A workshop, Thursday, January 18, from 6-9 Pacific. It’s online. I need preregistration so I can send you the link. Click here:
A retreat, in Death Valley. It’s my annual retreat, it’s popular, it’s fun, and you should do it! Click here:
That’s it. I’m not going to try and sell you and sell you and sell you. I don’t do that shit. This is no nonsense stuff here: you want change in your life? I can show you how. I hope I get to see you.
For last year's words belong to last year's language
And next year's words await another voice.
And to make an end is to make a beginning.
~T.S. Eliot, "Little Gidding"
Today is an ending of sorts. I am seeing posts from quite a few people who are grateful that 2017 is coming to an end. Apparently it hasn’t been a good year for many. But I also noticed on my memories feed for today that in past years, it wasn’t a good year either for many. And I wonder, how many say the same thing every year? Good riddance they say! I prefer another way. There is a spiritual book I study that says “we have no wish to regret the past nor to shut the door on it.” There is another spiritual book I study that says “principle is not bound by precedent.” Same concept, different words. What it means is that our past has power to determine our future only if we allow it. What if we used this principle as a way to do it different this time? What if we bid 2017 a fond farewell, releasing with gratitude everything that occurred, and then looking forward to the new year with excitement, enthusiasm and child like anticipation? What if we refused to allow what happened in past effect the decisions and actions of the future? What if we were no longer victims of our stories? What if we simply “advanced confidently in the direction of our dreams?” as Henry David Thoreau said. This New Year’s I will be setting intentions, not resolutions. Resolutions are useless, a waste of time. An intention such as “I will advance confidently in the direction of my dreams” is a guide for a way of living that ensures success. I wish you a happy new year!
I remember what life used to be like when I did not have a daily practice of going within and connecting. It was like being a dandelion in the wind. I got blown here and there, bits and pieces of me scattered everywhere. I could have been beautiful, but I didn't appreciate myself, and consequently others didn't either. I ended up being a thin little stem, fragile, victim of life, and destined for an early grave. Then a miracle happened. I made a change. A lot of changes actually. But they all stemmed from one series of thoughts: "I don't know what is wrong but something is definitely very wrong. And it has to change, because life wasn't meant to be like this." And I became willing to consider other ways of living. That one moment began what was to become a way of life that today is based in simple inward-focused practices that I do...every day. From that foundation, I have a life of choice, freedom based in personal responsibility, and joy. Much much joy. It's a funny thing about joy: there is the kind that is fleeting, based on outside stuff. That's more like happiness. It comes and goes. This kind of joy is not conditional upon outside stuff, so it is steady. It just is. As a result of fully embracing a life based in spiritual practice, I am now in a position where I can show others how to live such a life. Are you ready? Are you ready to embrace a way of living which will provide you with joy, peace and power? This can be your destiny. This can be a reality for you in the coming year. Set one intention for yourself for the coming year: to spend time every day utilizing one or two of the spiritual practices mentioned in my upcoming new book. There are 12 of them: introspection, connection, day dreaming, mindfulness, gratitude, prayer, treatment, contemplation, journaling, meditation, discipline, helping others, and Forgiveness. Every day. No matter what. And watch your life unfold. Don't let this New Year be like every other one, where you make resolutions that very quickly get set aside due to life and the whim of an undisciplined mind. Let this year be different. I can show you how. Sign up here:
Now, you may be thinking that you don't need someone to show you how to day dream. Well, did you know there are positive ways to day dream, and not so positive ways? You may be thinking that everyone knows how to say thank you. A gratitude practice goes much deeper than that.
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You may be thinking that you can skip the prayer one. What if I told you that there was a different, and more effective, way to pray than beseeching to an outside god whom you may or may not believe in? Or if you do believe in god, perhaps you think It won't hear your prayers? Or that you don't deserve to have them answered? None of those things is true.
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And what about that practice called treatment? What is that? Some sort of medical treatment? Nope. It is a formula, designed to add power to your prayers. It works!
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You may be thinking that there is someone you will never forgive. Check out my previous blog posts on forgiveness and then assess whether or not you want to avail yourself of this extremely powerful practice.
Sign up now for the BEST 2018 EVER!